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Bare neutral wire


Robert E Lee
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I inspected a home earlier today that was equipped with the original 1950's 100amp fuse panel. However as can be seen in the photo the neutral is a bare #6, and there is no ground cable present (bonding screw in place on the ground bar on the right side). The meter panel located on the outside wall had a ground running into it, which then connected to this bare #6 that ran through the wall into the main panel. My understanding is that the neutral should be an insulated cable, any comments?

Robert E Lee

GENERAL Home Inspections, Inc

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My feeling is the only problem it could cause would be a potential electrification of the panel, but I can't for the life of me picture a scenario where that would occur. The service panel in every house essentially has a "bare" neutral because they're bonded to the bare grounds. I'm sure it's not right, but I can't think of a reason why.

Edit: I still can't think of why it'd bother anything and it may be perfectly alright the more I think about it.

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Yeah,

Here, neutrals are mostly bare all the way to the meter, since they went to triplex service drops. Most of the time, they are insulated from the meter to the main disconnect. Sometimes not. Electricity has never been my strong suit, but I've always intuitively figured the bare neutral was allowed since the ground and neutral are bonded at the panel anyway.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Mark,

I have a code book. I learn best from thinking things through. I knew someone would answer the code question, but I need to understand why. If I looked up the code, I'd stop thinking about it and wouldn't get the same education.

Next, I'm going to figure out how to read the code book. Ok, Ok, Ok maybe not "next" but soon.

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

Mark,

I have a code book. I learn best from thinking things through. I knew someone would answer the code question, but I need to understand why.

OK, but you didn't ask why before. The reason is that the neutral is grounded at the service and is at the same potential as the earth. As you get away from the grounding point, the potential to earth increases, therefore you need to insulate it to protect you from getting a shock.

P.S. Don't waste a lot of time reading code books. They're basically inscrutable.

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  • 1 month later...

This is the reason home inspectors should under any reason be allowed to inspect electrical.Take a trip to home depot for god sake's .you can still buy (se) service entrance cable with to covered hots and wrapped with stranded conducters to be braided and used as a neutral . yes there still allowed .BUY A CODE BOOK ,TAKE SOME CODE CLASSES!!!!!!!!!!

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You're entitled to your opinion sir, and we do have our shortcomings. But we see plenty of sub-standard work done by licensed and unlicensed electricians who obviously have no code book either, or have chosen for economic reasons to ignore it. Neither of us can claim the standard we would like.

I don't think the SE cable makes a very good example here. The neutral / ground is still under a jacket until it gets to where it's going, and is only then exposed and twisted together....hardly a bare neutral.

As I have recently joined a code organization and have a book on the way, let me suggest for you an English book and some writing classes.

Brian G.

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Originally posted by mtnviewelectric

This is the reason home inspectors should under any reason be allowed to inspect electrical.Take a trip to home depot for god sake's .you can still buy (se) service entrance cable with to covered hots and wrapped with stranded conducters to be braided and used as a neutral . yes there still allowed .BUY A CODE BOOK ,TAKE SOME CODE CLASSES!!!!!!!!!!

This forum is queried daily by inspectors with varying degrees of skill. Some are former carpenters with decades of experience who can read the framing of a structure like the back of their hands, but struggle with electro-mechanical components. Many are former sparkies who breeze right through the electro-mechanicals on a home, but have a hard time understanding other aspects of a home related to structural, roofing, ventilation or plumbing. The late Wayne Genser was one. Even though Wayne had more than a quarter of a century of electrical work under his belt, he wasn't too proud to admit when he didn't fully understand something about some other aspect of a home and nobody on this board or the ASHI board ever chided him for it.

TIJ's whole purpose is to provide a place for inspectors to share information with one another, so that each of us can be better informed, better educated and thus raise the bar within our chosen profession - not unlike Mike Holt's board for electricians. We aren't perfect, but those who hang out here are working hard to be the best that they can be. As most of the posts above demonstrate, inspectors with less experience can come on here, ask a question and will eventually get accurate information, without being belittled. That is - until you stopped by.

A while back I inspected a brand new home immediately after the builder had obtained the C.O. from the city. When I arrived on-site, I found a one-day-old sticker in the service panel from the city electrical inspector giving final approval to the electric. When I pulled the cover off the panel, I found one of the SEC hadn't even been tightened behind the lug and two branch circuit wires were simply resting against the screws at breakers and weren't even inserted into the terminal clamps. I made a note of the deficiencies, explained them to my client and went about my business.

Twenty minutes later I was accosted by the electrical contractor. Apparently he'd been on-site finishing up in a couple other houses and the client's wife had gone to get him and had asked if he could stop by to correct a couple of issues her inspector had found. Instead of thanking the lady or myself for discovering that one of his guys, or perhaps he, had screwed up, this guy laid into the client's wife, and me, about home inspectors taking the cover off of panels and demanded to know why, if I'd found the deficiency, I hadn't fixed it. My answer, "So, I guess that means that when the city inspector finds an issue you expect he or she to fix it also?" He stormed off in a huff. Not the most professional of fellows.

A few years ago, I inspected an 11 year old home for a licensed electrician and found roughly half of the receptacles in the home had open grounds. I was nearly through checking the outlets when the electrician asked me if I had a "real" outlet tester(I was using my SureTest ST-1D). I reached into my tool bag, extracted the $12. 3-light tester, held it up and asked, "You mean like this one?" "Yeah, let me borrow that," came the response. He then went back through the house checking all of the outlets that I'd marked as having open grounds and proudly declared, "There, I knew that gizmo of your's couldn't be right. Every one of those outlets has a ground." "Really?" I responded. "Tell you what. Here's a screwdriver. You're the electrician. How about pulling off a few of those covers and seeing if there is actually a ground present?" He took the screwdriver, walked to the last outlet I'd ID'd as having no ground, pulled the cover off and then exclaimed, "Damn, you were right! The equipment grounding conductor isn't even here. Someone has clipped it off!" I held up the ST-ID and the 3-light tester. "$370. versus $12. Which one would you believe?" and turned around to get back to what I was doing. "Damn, I've got to get me one of those," came the response.

I hope you can continue to hang out here and help us out. We can always use the input of a good sparky. I just ask that you keep things in perspective and spend a little more time reading other forums here and gaining a better understanding of what this profession is all about, before you make judgmental statements about home inspectors in general.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike O'Handley, Editor

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Originally posted by mtnviewelectric

This is the reason home inspectors should under any reason be allowed to inspect electrical.

Well, that seems a bit over the top. How about, ". . . shouldn't be allowed to inspect electrical without adequate training."?

Take a trip to home depot for god sake's .you can still buy (se) service entrance cable with to covered hots and wrapped with stranded conducters to be braided and used as a neutral .

That's true, however I'd like to make sure that no one comes away from this post thinking that they can determine what is and isn't a proper installation based on what they find on the shelves at Home Depot. They stock the things that sell. Sometimes those things are right for the job and sometimes they're not. In particular, I'd advise people not to place too much trust in the plywood-backed mock ups they have in the aisles nor in the advice that the orange-vested aisle urchins are so free with.

yes there still allowed .BUY A CODE BOOK ,TAKE SOME CODE CLASSES!!!!!!!!!!

That's good advice even without the exclamation marks.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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As I have recently joined a code organization and have a book on the way, let me suggest for you an English book and some writing classes.

Brian G.

Brian, you are too cool, man. You could not have said it any better! Before I even read your comments, I was thinking the EXACT same thing!!!

I think you and I think way too much alike!!

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I do own code books, an Cd's.

Now I end up spending part of each day teaching the code to contractors and building inspectors that never read it. (That's a pain) I also spend part of the day reading this board and trying to answer code questions that come up.

Some times I feel that neither the contractor or the AHJ give a $#!t. They forget that the only reason codes are written is for the safety of the occupant(s) and the people maintaining the components of a building.

For example this code has, to my knowledge, never been enforced:

801.3 Roof drainage.

In areas where expansive or collapsible soils are known to exist, all dwellings shall have a controlled method of water disposal from roofs that will collect and discharge all roof drainage to the ground surface at least 5 feet (1524 mm) from foundation walls or to an approved drainage system.

Or for the sparkies this one seems to be one of the hardest to understand.

320.23 In Accessible Attics.

Type AC cables in accessible attics or roof spaces shall be installed as specified in 320.23(A) and (B).

(A) Where Run Across the Top of Floor Joists. Where run across the top of floor joists, or within 2.1 m (7 ft) of floor or floor joists across the face of rafters or studding, in attics and roof spaces that are accessible, the cable shall be protected by substantial guard strips that are at least as high as the cable. Where this space is not accessible by permanent stairs or ladders, protection shall only be required within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the nearest edge of the scuttle hole or attic entrance.

In accessible attics, Type AC cable installed across the top of floor joists or within 7 ft of the floor or floor joists across the face of rafters or studs must be protected by guard strips. Where the attic is not accessible by a permanent ladder or stairs, guard strips are required only within 6 ft of the scuttle hole or opening.

(B) Cable Installed Parallel to Framing Members. Where the cable is installed parallel to the sides of rafters, studs, or floor joists, neither guard strips nor running boards shall be required, and the installation shall also comply with 300.4(D).

I dedicate about 20 hours a year to learning more codes in addition to taking classes. It is not my job to teach the contractors but somebody has to do it.

I hope one day to be half as knowledgeable as Mr. Cramer, Mr. Morrison or Mr. Hansen when it comes to such things.[:-graduate]

Those that come on here and criticize the knowledge (Or lack of it) of others do not understand what the purpose of this board is for. [:-idea]

This is a place where you can come and ask questions without getting railed, nailed or screwed.

Remember "It is usually the person screaming the loudest that has nothing valuable to say."

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